SenShot is a site that pride’s itself on not only bringing you the best (and sometimes worst) of the Ottawa Senators, but also from around the NHL.
This season, we are going to expand our reach even further and also introduce more coverage of the Ottawa 67’s. The major junior club is in the midst of training camp, with many cuts expected to come today. The 67’s play their first exhibition game of the season on Monday afternoon against the Quebec Remparts at the Civic Centre. The Remparts are coached by former Canadiens and Avalanche goaltender Patrick Roy. The Remparts are in full swing as they have been in camp for a while and their regular season begins this Friday. Quebec features one of the top prospects for next summer’s NHL draft, Mikhial Grigorenko.
But enough about Monday’s game, lets look in depth at the 67’s.
The 67’s enjoyed a good regular season, but injuries struck the club heading into the playoffs and they were swept by the Sudbury Wolves in the first round. It was a bitterly disappointing end to a successful season but that is over with and a new season is on the horizon.
The 67’s won’t be the same without Brian Kilrea involved in the day to day operations of the club. The GM stepped down last month and handed the reins of the club to head coach Chris Byrne. Killer will still be involved in an advisory capacity, but the team is now Byrne’s to run with, after apprenticing for a number of years. Byrne is in his 6th season with the 67’s, his 3rd as head coach after spending 3 seasons learning from Kilrea behind the bench.
Barring a standout camp by one of the trio, Ottawa should return all three members of its top line this season. Tyler Toffoli (LA Kings) tied for the scoring lead in the OHL last season and is a good bet to make the Canadian Junior team this winter. The sniper is the trigger man on the line, as he scored 57 goals last season. Ryan Martindale (Edmonton Oilers) centres the line, and is a big body who can also play the game. Shane Prince (Ottawa Senators) is the catalyst for the line, and is also the primary defensive conscience. Prince should also play in the World Juniors, but the New York native would do so as a member of Team USA. This trio shows great chemistry last season and will be one of the top lines in the league.
Supporting the top line is a secondary trio centred by Sean Monahan who had a slow start as a 16 year old last season but by the end of the year was a star player. He will be counted on to take some of the pressure off Martindale, Toffoli and Prince, when opposition coaches try to load up against them. Dalton Smith (Columbus Blue Jackets) was drafted ahead of both Martindale and Toffoli in 2010 but struggled last year to find his place. Smith is a classic power forward, but needs to focus more on staying on the ice and contributing on the scoresheet and less time in the penalty box.
Sixteen year old David Perklin is already 6’3, 180 and looks to be the latest in a string of top forwards unearthered by the 67’s. Ottawa nabbed him with the 17th pick in the OHL priority selection this summer. The 67’s have a tradition of allowing young players to get experience early on, so by Christmas they are in the regular rotation. I don’t expect their treatment of Perklin to be any different.
The 67’s blue line is led by over-ager Marc Zanetti, who brings the experience and savvy of a veteran, and will be counted on to lead by example. Cody Ceci is a veteran of 2 full seasons and won’t turn 18 until just before Christmas. Ceci is primed to become an offensive force this season and could be a first round pick in next June’s draft. Import Michal Cajkovsky came over from the Kingston Frontenacs in the off season and will be a towering presence on the blue line this season.
Rookie Mike Vlajkov was an early 3nd rd pick of the 67’s and is another 16 year old that could and should crack the opening night roster. He is also big at 6’2″, 185 lbs, and will likely be eased into his role much like Perklin will be up front.
In fact, of the 8 defensemen currently on the roster, 7 of them are over 6′ tall.
Czech Republic native Petr Mrazek has emerged as one of the top goaltenders in the OHL and the Red Wings prospect will see
a bulk of the action this season. Mrazek was third in wins last season and could lead all goalies this year. Shayne Campbell proved to be a more than adequate backup, who went 8-4-2 in 15 starts for the 67’s.
Chris Byrne has learned from the best ever, and he has continued the tradition of never really having an off year. The sting of last season’s playoff exit has left some proving to do, and that provides motivation to the players who were part of that humbling defeat. Assuming the top line returns intact, this club will be a favorite to win the East (along with Eugene Melnyk‘s Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors) and a contender to win the OHL championship. They have the depth and the experience to go deep in the playoffs.
LET’S DROP THE PUCK!!! Weekly updates on the 67’s will be posted every Monday on SenShot.
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